Home, house

I entered Yunus’s house. He was allotted 150 square meters of land to build his home. Parts of the house were done up with brick and cement. The roof was still kutcha, raw – in the process of construction. You could see the incompleteness of the roof from the opening around the right hand side from which rain likely comes into the house (as does sunshine). I asked Yunus,

Ghar mein barsaat ka pani aata hai kya? Baarish se pareshaani nahi hoti?

(Does not the water from the rain come inside the house? Does it not cause inconvenience?)

Aata to hai, Yunus said with his easy attitude, optimistic voice and a sense of anxiety all mixed into one, haan aata to hai. The rain comes inside the house. Par ab kya kar saktey hai? What can you do? Jab baarish ki cheente aati hai, toh hum bacchon ko chaadar/kapda odha dete hai – when the water from the rain comes in, we cover the children with sheets/cloth.

Yunus’s home is a reflection of his own dreams, hopes and  aspirations. The entry to the house has been done up with beautiful mosaic tiling. There is a little step that leads into the house which is made of pieces of white, blue, red and yellow tiles. The house itself is one room which has been expanded vertically. Yunus has built a wooden loft to make space for himself, his wife and his children. There is a mori, the sqaure space which doubles up as a bathing space as well as the area to wash utensils. Clothes are washed outside the house. The toilet is also outside the house. Yunus says there are ten toilets for 410 houses in the area. A broom is hung from the wall as also are plastic bags from various shopping malls. I gaze at his place …

Home, that endearing space

House, in a city where this possession is prized, valued and loved

House – personal or matter of policy?

Home – personal or matter of policy?

The next time around, I am taken to Rehnuma’s ghar, her home. But this is not Rehnuma’s house. It is rented. Her brothers and father are building a house next to the rented jhonpada/hutment. I ask Rehnuma – when did you start the construction.

Yesterday, she says.

When will the house be completed?

Tomorrow, she answers.

So soon? I ask astonished.

Yes, no brick and cement to be used. This land is disputed. Demolitions have happened here. So, we are afraid to build something pucca/concrete.  When the house is done tomorrow, we will take our belongings and go there.

Meanwhile, her mother complains that the road outside the house is a mess – hamaare neta ko bol dege ki us mein mitti daal dein.

I ask Rehnuma where the toilets are.

Jungle mein jaate hai. Yeh badi mushkil hai. We have to go to the jungles – that is a big problem.

We move on. I am told that most people build their homes with bamboo poles and tin sheets – easy to build and dismantle. Most  people have a little stilt outside their houses to prevent the rain water from coming inside.

And then we were passing Wadala yesterday, in the BEST bus. At one point, we came across a stretch which was a deep pool of water. The driver stopped the bus. A minute later, the passengers stood up to see what is going on. Then, one of them shouted – drive on! The driver pressed the accelerator and strode ahead. As we moved on, we splashed all the water into the houses which were built on the pavements. Some had water inside their homes. We added more. Residents of the houses came out on the street and yelled abuses at the bus driver. But we had crossed the stretch …

Each day, I move across the city and watch how people have built their houses – someone else’s doors and windows help in making privacy for someone else. Door numbers and house numbers. Some poster of a Congress Neta or a MNS flag adorning some balconies. A ladder connecting the top and bottom floors. The top floor like a bunk – you squeeze to get inside. Some houses on footpaths. Some on hills. Some along railway tracks. And the concrete houses that have been built in the suburbs and edges of the city – some people doubling their homes as shops and trading spaces. Some running beauty parlours inside. Some have reorganized the space and adorned it with beautiful things. And it amazes me to no end how each house is a reflection of the family’s dreams and aspirations, is a source of their politics and consciousness, is their place in the city. And I wonder …

House – personal or matter of policy?

Home – personal or matter of policy?

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